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GM Europe Won’t Break Even Until Mid-Decade

Further plant closings possible.

by on Nov.01, 2012

GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky leads a new team trying to right the maker's European ship.

Despite an intense turnaround effort that will include plant closings, job cuts, a management shake-up – and a flood of new product – General Motors doesn’t expect its hemorrhaging European operations to be back in the black until mid-decade, according to the executive overseeing that rescue effort.

In the near-term, losses are continuing to mount, $478 million for the third quarter, and the maker upping the projected deficit for all of 2012 to somewhere between $1.5 billion and $1.8 billion. GM Europe has consistently run in the red since 1999, total losses now expected to top $17 billion by year-end.

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But the picture isn’t entirely bleak. GM’s German-based Opel subsidiary has received strongly positive reviews – and a flurry of orders – for new products such as the compact Mokka crossover and Adam minicar, and GM Europe actually going into the black from a cashflow basis for the July – September quarter.

That was “a positive step in this difficult environment for a company that hasn’t had much positive news” in recent years, suggested Steve Girsky, the former Wall Street automotive analyst who now serves as GM Vice Chairman – and who was put in charge of the European turnaround early this year.


Auto Beat’s “Voice of God, Robb Mahr, Dead at 76

Veteran broadcaster's voice was a familiar one.

by on Oct.22, 2012

His voice could shake a room; Robb Mahr was known to many on the auto circuit as "The Voice of God."

By David Smith, Special to

When he was covering news for Detroit’s WWJ Radio in the 1970s and ‘80s, there was a button in the control panel marked “VOG.”

That was the button they pushed to contact Robb Mahr,  “The Voice of God.” Mr. Mahr, of Keego Harbor,  who died on Wednesday (Oct.17) after a year-long bout with cancer. He would have turned 76 on Nov.4.

While the laid-back journalist made no claim to sounding like God, his booming, deep base voice – even in normal conversation – was a natural for radio, his first love, and for television.

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Born in Colorado Springs, CO, Mahr attended the University of Denver and the University of Nebraska. He  was an on-air reporter  early in his career on radio stations in Monterey and San Jose, CA,  and continued in broadcasting  until his death.


Teen Drinking and Driving Falls by Half

But 20% of teens involved in fatal crashes still used alcohol.

by on Oct.03, 2012

Night time is the wrong time for teenage drivers.

Emergency crews struggle to save teens involved in a nighttime accident.

The number of teens who drink and then drive has fallen by more than half over the last two decades, according to a new study, but there is still a problem with teens “binge drinking” before climbing behind the wheel, it cautions.

And officials with the Centers for Disease Control stressed that even with fewer drunk teen drivers, car crashes remain the leading cause of death for those between the ages of 16 and 19.

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“There is a broader recognition that drinking and driving is not okay. There is now a sense that friends don’t let friends drink and drive,” said CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden in a media conference call.


Have Fuel Prices Peaked?

Some forecasts predict the worst is over.

by on Apr.11, 2012

It may not be much be gas prices have settled back in recent days.

It may be difficult to celebrate when you’re paying $3.92 a gallon for gas but the good news is that’s a penny cheaper than where the national average for a gallon of regular stood last week, according to the AAA.

Indeed, while there are still plenty of pessimists wondering how much beyond the previous record oil prices might yet go there are signs that the run-up at the gas price has or will soon reach its peak. Those who think the numbers could soon start falling point to factors such as the weak European economy, the slow American recovery and signals from the Iranian government it may be willing to compromise on its controversial nuclear program.

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That’s good news for weary motorists who have been bombarded with pessimistic headlines counting the days until gas would pass the previous $4.11 record set in July 2008.  Some observers have been forecasting the market wouldn’t settle down until gas came closer to the $5 mark, in fact.


Tough, Sure, but Work Truck Buyers also Demanding Luxury Touches

Ford adds Sync, leather seats and other amenities to 2013 F-Series Super Duty pickup.

by on Mar.09, 2012

The 2013 Ford F-Series Super Duty Platinum.

Watch any manly-man TV show and you’re certain to see the commercials featuring manly men doing tough guy stuff with their pickups, hauling trailers, building roads, blasting mountains into piles of rubble.  No wonder makers such as Ford like to talk about horsepower, towing capacity and other measures of brute power.

But, it seems, those truck powers are more like the rest of the world in also wanting plenty of creature comforts, the sort of things you might measure by the number of speakers or the wattage of the amp.

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No wonder, then, that Ford says it will make its toughest work trucks decidedly more luxurious and comfortable, adding such niceties as Sync, MyFordTouch, leather and 10-way power seats to its 2013 F-Series Super Duty line-up.

Notably, the Deroit maker is adding an all-new Platinum Series model to the 2013 Super Duty range.


Did Chrysler Pull Clint Eastwood Ad Over NFL Copyright Dispute?

Maker denying news reports – but blocks YouTube access to “Halftime in America.”

by on Feb.06, 2012

Is there a copyright problem with the Chrysler/Clint Eastwood ad?

(Editor’s Note: Check back for more as we update this breaking news story.)

An apparent copyright dispute with the NFL has forced Chrysler to block access to the Youtube version of its much-discussed “Halftime in America” commercial, starring Clint Eastwood.  The unusual 2-minute spot, which originally aired at the end of halftime during Super Bowl XLVI, focused on solving the nation’s current problems rather than offering the traditional automotive hard-sell.

Following a year after an earlier 2-minute spot that featured rapper Eminem and focused on Detroit’s comeback, the Eastwood commercial triggered massive discussions on social media and a flood of viewers who raced to replay the spot on sites such as YouTube.

But what caused Chrysler to pull the ad and state that, “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by NFL Properties LLC” is unclear.  Just before 10 AM Eastern Time, Chrysler issued a media alert advising that it had received reports the link to the commercial “did not work.  Our apologies!”  The media advisory included an updated link that allows a journalist to view or download the spot without trouble.  (Click Here.)

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A call to the maker’s press office in Auburn Hills, Michigan left the answer unresolved, with an administrative assistant claiming there was no problem with the ad but officials so far unable to explain why the ad was pulled from Chrysler’s own Youtube page.  Adding to the confusion, the cinematic commercial was uploaded by a number of individuals and so far, at least, Youtube, Chrysler and the NFL have made no effort to pull any of them down.